The constitution gives the government the power to take someone’s private land under an authority called eminent domain. However, there are restrictions on this power. The government can only take private property for public use. So, for example, although the government could take property for public possession and enjoyment of land, it could not take the property strictly for private development. Additionally, when the government does exercise its power of eminent domain, it must give the property owner appropriate (or just) compensation for the taking.
As a general matter, before the government initiates a condemnation action under its power of eminent domain, it will have the property value assessed and will then make an effort to purchase the property from the owner. Many times, however, the property owner doesn’t want to move because he or she has some kind of emotional attachment to the land or other good reason for wanting to stay. If the property owner does not accept the government’s offer to purchase the land, the government will commence a condemnation proceeding, in which the government will ask the judge to force the property owner to sell the property to the government. Property owners can often make good arguments that the property is not being taken for public use, or that the government has not offered “just” compensation for the property. It is therefore important for property owners facing condemnation to consult an experienced Arizona eminent domain attorney to assess the best course of action.
Lancer Law’s eminent domain and condemnation practice assists clients with pre-condemnation planning and possession issues, representation at resolution of necessity hearing, and right-to-take and valuation litigation. With the assistance of expert appraisers, we help establish fair market valuations, together with cost recovery determinations on issues such as business goodwill, fixtures and equipment, precondemnation damages, severance damages and relocation costs. We have experience working with a broad range of property types, including undeveloped land, commercial, residential and industrial properties.
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